He may not have a big role on this year’s Olympic hoops team – content to play sparingly, and mostly provide leadership as the Elder Statesman — but that doesn’t mean Kobe Bryant is taking the London Games lightly at all. Bean tells The Guardianthat he shed 16 pounds while training for one final shot at another gold medal: “As the team go through their warm-up routine, it is clear that something is different about the superstar, physically and mentally. He seems very relaxed. [...] Sitting in a conference room at the Wynn hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Bryant and his coach reminisce over their first meeting. ‘I remember watching Kobe playing – I’ve been coaching for 37 years – and he was the best high school player I ever saw,’ says USA Basketball’s head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, recalling how he recruited Bryant to play for Duke University in 1996 before he became the 27th player to forgo his collegiate career and enter the NBA straight from high school. ‘I was a little, scrawny kid,’ remembers Bryant before Krzyzewski corrects him: ‘You were never that scrawny.’ Bryant laughs. ‘He carried himself way above his peers,’ Krzyzewski reflects. ‘He continues to do that. He really is the guy I respect most playing basketball today.’ […] ‘I actually enjoy it,’ Bryant says. ‘I have some grey hairs on my head, but the problem is that my hair won’t grow any more. The ageing thing is something I really enjoy. It’s a challenge because you have to adjust some things. You have to change your diet. You have to change the speed with which you play. It’s fun to approach that bridge.’ […] Beyond experimental [knee] therapy, Bryant reveals how else his appearance has changed, losing 16 pounds to prepare his older body for the rigours of the Olympics followed by another run at his sixth NBA title. ‘With summer basketball leading directly into the season – and I’m expecting to play until next June – I have to take some load off my knees. I’ve got to shave some of this weight.’”